U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today called out Democrats for trying to disguise the price of their reckless tax-and-spending spree through convoluted budget gimmicks that are designed to fool the American people. Thune warned that Democrats’ massive government expansion and proposed tax hikes pose serious, long-term consequences for the economy and South Dakota families.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, Democrats continue to negotiate with each other on their tax-and-spending spree.
“Democrats are currently working to lower the bill’s top-line number in an effort to meet some of the demands of the few moderate Democrats who have reservations about unchecked government spending.
“Now, Mr. President, you might think that lowering the top-line number would involve deciding what programs and spending to eliminate to bring the bill in at a lower cost.
“Well, not exactly.
“Yes, Democrats are reportedly eliminating some spending.
“But the word is that under pressure from progressives – who are dead-set against curtailing their plans for expanding government – Democrats are planning to keep a lot of their most expensive proposals but simply shorten the funding window to make the cost of these programs seem lower.
“Take Democrats’ fantastically expensive child allowance.
“Democrats have every intention of turning their child allowance into a permanent government welfare program.
“But in order to bring the top-line number for their spending bill down, the word is that Democrats are now planning to officially extend the allowance for just one year.
“This is in fact a budget gimmick on top of a budget gimmick, as Democrats were already attempting to disguise the true cost of the child allowance by officially extending it for just four of the 10 years in the bill’s 10-year budget window.
“They were never, of course, planning to eliminate the child allowance after four years.
“And they’re certainly not planning to eliminate it now after one year.
“But by officially extending it for just a year in their tax-and-spending spree, they can manage to make the program look as if it will cost hundreds of billions of dollars less than it will actually cost.
“And they’re apparently repeating this strategy with a number of their other spending measures.
“That paid leave program?
“Apparently the White House has proposed a smaller version that would – supposedly – ‘expire’ after three or four years.
“Those child care subsidies?
“Apparently those may also now ostensibly ‘expire.’
“The Obamacare subsidies Democrats want to extend permanently?
“Once again, it sounds like they’re going to try shrinking the apparent cost with a short-term extension.
“But again, let’s be very clear here.
“These short-term extensions and short-term programs are nothing more than a budget gimmick to disguise the true cost of Democrats’ plan.
“There isn’t one program that I have named that Democrats don’t fully intend to make permanent.
“Don’t believe me?
“Just ask the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which outlined the strategy Democrats are currently adopting in a letter to Speaker Pelosi.
“‘If given a choice between legislating narrowly or broadly,’ the caucus wrote, ‘we strongly encourage you to choose the latter, and make robust investments over a shorter window. … This will help make the case for our party’s ability to govern, and establish a track record of success that will pave the way for a long-term extension of benefits.’
“So the plan, Mr. President, is to make these programs permanent, and permanently – and massively – expand the size of government.
“Democrats hope to get Americans hooked on the government benefits they’re offering while hiding the true cost of those benefits from the American people until it’s too late.
“Frankly, Mr. President, it’s not a bad strategy if your aim is to permanently expand the size of government.
“Because the truth is, it’s pretty hard to eradicate even the most inefficient and ineffective federal program once it’s been put in place.
“As Ronald Reagan used to say, ‘The nearest thing to eternal life that we'll ever see on this earth is a government program.’
“And that, of course, is what Democrats are counting on.
“They believe that once they put these programs in place, no one from either party will be able to get rid of them.
“What is less clear is how Democrats believe these programs are going to be funded in the long term – if they’ve given any thought to the issue at all.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they haven’t.
“Mr. President, it’s important to note that the short-term programs and program extensions in Democrats’ tax-and-spending spree will be paid for by 10 years of taxes.
“It will take 10 years of taxes – and other revenue-raising measures – to pay for programs that are scheduled to last as little as one year.
“So what happens when Democrats want to extend that child allowance again next year, or extend those child-care subsidies for the long term?
“Well, that’s a good question – and one that I would love to hear Democrats answer.
“Are Democrats going to trot out more tax hikes to pay for extending the child allowance, or making the child-care subsidies permanent?
“Or are they going to just suggest that we add hundreds of billions – and eventually trillions – to our already dangerously large national debt?
“And if they opt for tax hikes, just who is going to be facing those tax hikes?
“Democrats are eventually going to run out of money from millionaires and billionaires.
“And then they’re going to start coming after the wallets of the middle class.
“And of course, Mr. President, when I say that the programs in Democrats’ tax-and-spending spree will be paid for with 10 years of taxes, I mean that Democrats are claiming that those programs will be paid for.
“Because it’s by no means clear that Democrats’ tax hikes and revenue-raising measures will actually result in the revenue they’re claiming.
“Democrats, for example, are claiming that their proposal to increase IRS enforcement measures – including a new requirement that would allow the IRS to look into the details of Americans’ spending – will allow them to collect $700 billion in revenue.
“But the Congressional Budget Office has not confirmed that estimate, and there’s substantial reason to doubt that Democrats will be able to collect anywhere close to that amount.
“And, Mr. President, even if Democrats do manage to rake in every dollar they’re claiming, the tax hikes and revenue-raisers they’re proposing would have long-term costs beyond the dollar amount of the tax hikes.
“More than one of Democrats’ tax proposals would have a chilling effect on investment and economic growth – which would mean a less vibrant economy with fewer jobs and opportunities for American workers.
“And the IRS proposal I mentioned could put the details of Americans’ ordinary bank activity into the hands of the IRS – an agency that we have seen repeatedly mishandle the taxpayer data it already has, as recently as earlier this year.
“Mr. President, Democrats may be able to come up with a smaller top-line number by hiding the true cost of the government programs they’re contemplating.
“But their buy-now/pay-later (or never) approach to government spending is going to have serious consequences for our economy, and for the American people.
“Unfortunately, by the time the full costs of Democrats’ massive government expansion are felt, it may be too late to do much about it.
“That, apparently, is what Democrats are counting on.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”